what strange light astride me

strobing winter’s forlorn code

between aged piles of peeling birch

brittle colonnade, keeping secret

summers not seen in years, nascent heat

to stir the shards in winter’s light.

the torpor of the jaundiced skin is

poor, thick in dried veins, veiled lethargy

in the onion smell, bulbs brown beneath

the snow and somewhere deeper

the plaintive shriek of shifting ice

drifts from left to right.

as I child I tread the surface of a pool

of wraiths, unfurling knolls of steam where

water palmed its cloth against the air.

who is it treads my shadow

thin imprints of a footfall haunt

the path behind, some distant throat

carves song into the bitterness

gunmetal braids of glass soprano

vibrato the frost cracks.

the birch slough off their whitest flesh

and waxy fingers heap the piles

a pyre, if fire could be here lit

from bark and bird, and needled pine

weakness, elegance

a single stony leaf, long fallen.

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